With the start of the fall semester, many students are still wondering how the COVID-19 vaccine field has evolved and what the University of Wisconsin is planning on doing regarding booster shots and updated mask mandates.

A major milestone in the fight against COVID-19 is Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine becoming the first to receive approval from the Food and Drug Administration this August. The vaccine will now be marketed as “comirnaty,” indicating active immunization from COVID-19.

According to the FDA, the Pfizer vaccine is only approved for individuals 16 years and older, though it is still available under emergency use authorization, for those 12 through 15 years of age and as a third does for immunocompromised individuals.

While Pfizer is the first pharmaceutical company to gain FDA approval, there are still many other companies developing their own COVID-19 vaccine, such as Novavax.

UW students transition to fall semester with 90% in-person instructionUniversity of Wisconsin students returned to in-person instruction Wednesday. According to NBC15, 90% of UW classes this semester will be Read…

According to the New York Times, scientists are optimistic about the results from the new Novavax vaccine trials. Novax received a $1.6 billion grant from the government with the condition they would produce 100 million doses by the beginning of next year.

Scientists believe data from preliminary tests are very promising, according to the New York Times. Though it won’t be possible to say definitively if the vaccine is safe and effective until Novavax goes through Phase 3, which consists of a large-scale study where the data of those who are vaccinated is compared to the data of those who got the placebo.

If the vaccine does prove to be both effective and safe, Novavax will undertake large-scale manufacturing for millions of doses.

The University of Wisconsin is offering a third dose of Pfizer and Moderna to immunocompromised students who had previously received two doses of either of the mRNA vaccines. They are waiting for further guidance from the federal government regarding booster shots for individuals who are not immunocompromised.

UW encourages students to consider all vaccination sites availableWisconsin’s COVID-19 vaccine eligibility is now open to anyone 16 and older. With only around a month left in UW’s Read…

Ajay Sethi, who is an associate professor of Population Health Sciences at UW, said advisors to the FDA are going to meet to discuss Pfizer’s evidence for needing to boost their vaccine Sept. 17.

“Once the FDA reviews the data, the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] will decide whether to recommend boosters, the timing and priority groups, if any,” Sethi said in an email to The Badger Herald. “The [UW] campus will be among the first to know, and the planning process will begin.”

Still, Sethi said it is too early to speculate on specific plans regarding boosters.

One thing that may influence the federal government’s decision is that the leader of the World Health Organization recently urged countries with large supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, including the U.S., to delay offering booster shots through the end of the year, according to The Press Democrat.

“I will not stay silent when companies and countries that control the global supply of vaccines think the world’s poor should be satisfied with leftovers,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom said in a news conference in Geneva.

Though the vaccination front may be looking up, Dane County has reaffirmed their stance that individuals must continue to take precautions against the spread of COVID-19. Public Health Madison and Dane County has extended the mask mandate, which was set to expire Sept. 16, to Oct. 8. More information about the mask mandate extension can be found on PHMDC’s website.

PHMDC releases second face-covering emergency orderIn response to increasing breakthrough infections in Dane County, Public Health Madison and Dane County issued Face Covering Emergency Order Read…

PHMDC has recognized COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and have created 19 new positions to address the ongoing COVID-19 response and recovery, according to their recent press release.

These new positions will allow others in the public health department to get back to their own work. The positions would be funded through Dec. 2024 with $5.8 million in state and federal grants.